How recruitment agencies should work- what you need to know!

  • By Carol Johnson
  • 03 May, 2017

Written by Rebecca Guy

In every industry, there are examples of companies not following rules or people losing out because mistakes have been made and the recruitment industry, sadly, is no different. Even the most experienced candidates can be taken advantage of without realising it, as well as candidates who have never used an agency before and are unsure of how they should work. In this blog edition we are going to highlight some of the rules that agencies must follow and some examples of bad practice that are common to hear about.

The UK Government website has a lot of information about employment agencies and businesses therefore we have included some key information below and linked the keywords back to original pages.

“If you run an employment agency or employment business you have to follow certain rules.

You can’t:

  • charge a fee to a work-seeker for work finding services
  • stop someone from working elsewhere or terminating their contract with you
  • make someone tell them the name of any future employer
  • withhold payments or wages due
  • supply a temporary worker to replace someone taking part in industrial action
  • charge for a uniform without telling the worker in advance
  • make unlawful deductions from pay

 You must also make sure workers are:

The rules are different for entertainment and modelling  agencies and businesses and who pays workers depends on what kind of work and agency the worker is involved in.”

GOV.uk

There is an ongoing debate that agencies charging for payroll services could be seen as breaking the law for doing so, as this could be interpreted as being a “work finding service”. For some work (such as nursing or forestry), the agencies need to have licenses too and there are guidelines for protecting the wellbeing of candidates before sending them to a hiring business.

“Before placing a work-seeker with a hirer, you must get sufficient information from the hirer including:

  • the identity of the hirer and, if applicable, the nature of their business
  • the date the hirer needs a work-seeker to start and for how long
  • the type of work, location, working hours and any health and safety risks and controls
  • the experience, references, training and qualifications the hirer needs for the post or are needed by law
  • any expenses payable by or to the work-seeker
  • if you run an agency, the minimum wage, benefits, method of payment, and notice periods for termination of employment (where applicable)”

GOV.uk

In addition, if the agency provides other services, such a CV workshops, and charges for them, they cannot make using those other services a condition of the agency finding work for them.

To demonstrate that an agency works to a high ethical and professional standard there is accreditation they can seek and organisations they can become members off, for example the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

“REC Members are UK-based recruitment agencies, spanning from large organisations right down to sole traders. The REC represents the interests of its members and the UK jobs market to government through its policy work. The  REC lobbies government directly   and has a foothold with all major government departments.”  

REC- About Us

Recruitment agencies will ask for the following documents when they register a candidate:

  1. Proof of eligibility to work in UK e.g.: passport or full birth certificate
  2. Proof of National Insurance Number
  3. Proof of address

They should only ask to see the original documents, photocopies or handwritten notes should not be accepted. This is part of the compliance procedure that all agencies should adhere to.

There are many examples of low standards or bad practice from recruitment agencies:

  • Radically changing your CV without your permission
  • Asking for copies of the compliance documents to be faxed or emailed
  • Sending workers to a company that has not been vetted properly
  • Not providing a contract within 3 working days of informing the candidate they will start an assignment
  • Not paying the amount that is in their contract or minimum wage
  • Sending the candidate’s CV out to a company without consulting the candidate first. This can result in the CV going to a previous or current employer that the candidate might not want and can lead to the candidate losing their current position
  • There is so much potential to expand on the topics we have touched on in this blog, we would love to hear your comments and questions about these or any other recruitment topics, especially if you have any horror stories to share!

Please see below for links to our website, the REC website and the GOV website. If you are worried about someone or think that an agency, be it small and independent or the major high street corporates or managed services, are not following the rules click here to visit the Pay and Work Rights Helpline and Complaints page on the UK Government website or report them to the REC .

https://www.gov.uk/employment-agencies-and-businesses/overview

https://www.rec.uk.com/about-us

https://www.johnsonunderwood.co.uk/



Rebecca Guy is the Business Development Coordinator at Johnson Underwood, she has had a super varied career so far and has a wealth of knowledge and great advice for candidates and recruiters. You can follow her on Twitter @rebeccahguy

JU Blog

By Carol Johnson 07 Jun, 2017

In preparation for going to watch Alien Covenant at the cinema last week, I decided to watch all the main Alien films so I would know what was going on. I’ve only recently started working in recruitment, and whilst I was watching Aliens, I started thinking about interviewing the character of Ellen Ripley, for a new job. The answers I imagined her giving me for “Tell me about your most recent role” made me chuckle and got me thinking about how other movie characters would answer some basic interview questions if they went for a new job.

So please read on for my 10 interview questions for movie characters, and beware that there are a few spoilers!


The Lord of the Interviews

My train of thought prompted some great conversations with my colleagues about movie characters they’d like to interview and a debate as to whether you could consider that Frodo Baggins had a bad job, or was it technically a bad volunteering position? Either way, as our first candidate, his transferable skills of perseverance and teamwork would inevitably be called into question when asked, “Tell me about the last time you completed a project from planning stages to successful delivery?” .

 

Interview with an Alien

Our second candidate is Ellen Ripley; the hero of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3. She starts the first film as a Warrant Officer, and by end of the third film has had to kill herself to stop the Weyland-Yutani Corporation  from taking the Alien queen inside her, to use as a biological weapon. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation  are behind a few of the nasty surprises she gets, as well as contributing to her fear of androids and the loss of her space flight license so it would be hard for her not to condemn them as a former employer when asked “Tell me why you left your last job.” .

 

Inter-stellar-view

Being an astronaut in any film seems to usually spell doom for the character(s) involved but so seems to be any crew of an expedition- characters are either going to die, or be left behind. I love The Martian ’s Mark Watney as an example because his plight is so extreme. He is stranded but very much alive, becoming a survivor but instead of it being in a jungle or desert, it’s a different planet and he can’t just hunt or try to find water, he’s got to create food and water from basically nothing. As a character, I’d love to interview him when he’s decided to go for a new role, and ask, “What was the biggest challenge in your last role?” .

 

Defence Against the Interview Panel

I think teachers have a really interesting interviewing process; it usually involves a formal interview and then the candidate teaches a lesson with actual students, whilst the interviewers watch. This gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge as well as discuss them. As a professor at Hogwarts, which suffers from a very high turnover of staff for a particular subject (OFSTED trigger alert!), you are constantly trying to avoid daily interactions with potentially lethal kids, animals and plants. To make matters worse, even if you did manage to teach all your students to pass their exams and have avoided all the trouble all year, the headteacher, Professor Dumbledore, might just cancel all the exams anyway! This would make it extremely hard for our fourth candidate to answer interview questions like “How do you measure your students’ progress alongside the national average?” .

 

We’re ready to hire you

Working in any science field has its challenges and under-funding problems but as a Ghostbuster, not only does there only seem to be four of you at a time, but you will constantly be having to challenge people’s perceptions and beliefs of the subjects of your study. Not to mention that each time you successfully complete a mission, the clean-up is enormous and the publicity not always good. In all the Ghostbusters films, there are examples of when the team has had to explain their situation to people who disagree with, or don’t believe, them and usually they are proved right because inexplicable evidence suddenly appears. Regardless of the next job any of them went for, it would be difficult for them to answer the popular interview question, “Give an example of when you have successfully explained a complex technical issue, to someone who has not had any experience in that area.” .

 

Help me, hire you

Our sixth candidate, Jerry Maguire (from Jerry Maguire ), is fortunate to have a fictional moment that many real-life workers dream off- he storms out of work, standing up for his principles and takes a fish with him. He then risks everything to start his own agency and, like many real situations, has a really hard time getting it off the ground and running but I’d love to hear his answer to “Tell me about a time you took initiative with a new concept, how did it go?” .

 

Mutant and hired

Whether you are born with super powers, accumulate them through an accident, or build them yourself, a superhero’s job is not an easy one. Apart from having the stress of living through traumatic experiences, time after time, you also have to keep up appearances of your alter-ego and their job without showing you’re stressed out, probably injured from your crime-fighting nights and behind with your workload. For example, if Peter Parker left The Daily Bugle, what would his photography portfolio look like? I can tell you it would pretty much just be full of Spiderman photos, so, as our seventh candidate, how would he answer “How do you demonstrate creativity and variety in your photography subject matter?” . Similarly, how would Professor Xavier handle questions like “Tell me how you have maximised the use of current facilities at your school? What were the challenges you faced?” . And how would Clark Kent answer “Take me through your article planning process and three successful deadline submissions.” .


Prepare for interview awesomeness

Hospitality can be a very difficult and demanding industry to work in, whether it is as a career path, or as a stop-gap whilst you study or train to do something different, and people all over the world wait tables solely to get by, so they can succeed at their career aspirations one day. In Kung Fu Panda , the character of Po works in a noodle restaurant before becoming the Dragon Warrior and has picked up some great culinary skills that help him make friends and become a great kung fu fighter. As our tenth candidate, if you were interviewing him, would you believe his answer for, “What transferable skills can you bring from your past roles, to the one you are applying for?” .


The interview questions I’ve used in this article, are all examples of competency based questions; the answers to which, should include the action you have taken and the results of your work, to help give a more rounded, and specific, answer.

I’ve listed the questions below for reference and would love you to leave your comments if you have any ideas for interview questions and movie characters you’d ask them to. I’d also like to know, what is the worst interview question you’ve been asked?

  • Tell me about your most recent role
  • Tell me about the last time you completed a project from planning stages to successful delivery?
  • Tell me why you left your last job
  • What was the biggest challenge in your last role
  • How do you measure your students’ progress alongside the national average?
  • Give an example of when you have successfully explained a complex technical issue, to someone who has not had any experience in that area
  • Tell me about a time you took initiative with a new concept, how did it go?
  • How do you demonstrate creativity and variety in your photography subject matter?
  • Tell me how you have maximised the use of current facilities at your school? What were the challenges you faced?
  • Take me through your article planning process and three successful deadline submissions.
  • What transferable skills can you bring from your past roles, to the one you are applying for?

By Carol Johnson 03 May, 2017

In every industry, there are examples of companies not following rules or people losing out because mistakes have been made and the recruitment industry, sadly, is no different. Even the most experienced candidates can be taken advantage of without realising it, as well as candidates who have never used an agency before and are unsure of how they should work. In this blog edition we are going to highlight some of the rules that agencies must follow and some examples of bad practice that are common to hear about.

The UK Government website has a lot of information about employment agencies and businesses therefore we have included some key information below and linked the keywords back to original pages.

“If you run an employment agency or employment business you have to follow certain rules.

You can’t:

  • charge a fee to a work-seeker for work finding services
  • stop someone from working elsewhere or terminating their contract with you
  • make someone tell them the name of any future employer
  • withhold payments or wages due
  • supply a temporary worker to replace someone taking part in industrial action
  • charge for a uniform without telling the worker in advance
  • make unlawful deductions from pay

 You must also make sure workers are:

The rules are different for entertainment and modelling  agencies and businesses and who pays workers depends on what kind of work and agency the worker is involved in.”

GOV.uk

There is an ongoing debate that agencies charging for payroll services could be seen as breaking the law for doing so, as this could be interpreted as being a “work finding service”. For some work (such as nursing or forestry), the agencies need to have licenses too and there are guidelines for protecting the wellbeing of candidates before sending them to a hiring business.

“Before placing a work-seeker with a hirer, you must get sufficient information from the hirer including:

  • the identity of the hirer and, if applicable, the nature of their business
  • the date the hirer needs a work-seeker to start and for how long
  • the type of work, location, working hours and any health and safety risks and controls
  • the experience, references, training and qualifications the hirer needs for the post or are needed by law
  • any expenses payable by or to the work-seeker
  • if you run an agency, the minimum wage, benefits, method of payment, and notice periods for termination of employment (where applicable)”

GOV.uk

In addition, if the agency provides other services, such a CV workshops, and charges for them, they cannot make using those other services a condition of the agency finding work for them.

To demonstrate that an agency works to a high ethical and professional standard there is accreditation they can seek and organisations they can become members off, for example the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

“REC Members are UK-based recruitment agencies, spanning from large organisations right down to sole traders. The REC represents the interests of its members and the UK jobs market to government through its policy work. The  REC lobbies government directly   and has a foothold with all major government departments.”  

REC- About Us

Recruitment agencies will ask for the following documents when they register a candidate:

  1. Proof of eligibility to work in UK e.g.: passport or full birth certificate
  2. Proof of National Insurance Number
  3. Proof of address

They should only ask to see the original documents, photocopies or handwritten notes should not be accepted. This is part of the compliance procedure that all agencies should adhere to.

There are many examples of low standards or bad practice from recruitment agencies:

  • Radically changing your CV without your permission
  • Asking for copies of the compliance documents to be faxed or emailed
  • Sending workers to a company that has not been vetted properly
  • Not providing a contract within 3 working days of informing the candidate they will start an assignment
  • Not paying the amount that is in their contract or minimum wage
  • Sending the candidate’s CV out to a company without consulting the candidate first. This can result in the CV going to a previous or current employer that the candidate might not want and can lead to the candidate losing their current position
  • There is so much potential to expand on the topics we have touched on in this blog, we would love to hear your comments and questions about these or any other recruitment topics, especially if you have any horror stories to share!

Please see below for links to our website, the REC website and the GOV website. If you are worried about someone or think that an agency, be it small and independent or the major high street corporates or managed services, are not following the rules click here to visit the Pay and Work Rights Helpline and Complaints page on the UK Government website or report them to the REC .

https://www.gov.uk/employment-agencies-and-businesses/overview

https://www.rec.uk.com/about-us

https://www.johnsonunderwood.co.uk/



By Carol Johnson 04 Apr, 2017

Coercive control and bullying come and go in the media and I guess we all think that it would not happen to us; that we are somehow stronger, we could soon see what was happening, we would walk away somehow.
However; in reality it is very difficult to do.
For those experiencing this form of bullying and control may end up losing their sense of worth, then begin to question and doubt themselves and generally lose the nerve to fight back.
Sadly, it happens all too often in the workplace and it is very difficult to walk away…why should you give in?
Would you be able to secure another role?
Would you be able to earn the money you need?
Would another organisation appreciate the skills you have to offer and what if you make a mistake and choose the wrong role?
All these anxieties are rife and add to the pressures at work of this constant “drip” of snide bullying and you soon lose your confidence and self-esteem. It can have a massive negative effect on relationships, friendships and your well-being.
We ask ourselves; why is nothing done about these two forms of control in the workplace? How do they manifest themselves? What can be done?
Every week we hear stories from candidates registering with us for new roles. They are apologetic because they have found themselves in such a position, as though it is their fault. At the beginning of this abuse they fought and determinedly vowed it would not affect them, but it does.
The constant negativity they face grinds them down. Their aspirations become almost non-existent; they just need money to survive. Their futures are no longer filled with hopes and ambition, but fear and defeatism.
Coercive control and bullying can reduce the most talented and strong candidates to feel they have nothing to offer; they should just take a ‘basic’ role and forget about having a career. It affects everyone; all genders, all ages, all creeds, no one is immune.
Please share your experience with us and help us to give advice and coping strategies, so that the bullies do not win.
Here are a few scenarios, all true that we know of:
·       Drip feed of personal comments and those relating to your work to destroy your confidence:
“I thought you were going to the hairdressers yesterday”
“You are brave to wear that colour”
“X client is difficult. Hand them over to me if you like”
“You do not mind taking the calls while we go out for lunch (rest of the team), you wouldn’t want to come anyway.”
“Are you putting on weight? ‘X’ has just come back from maternity and she looks amazing!”
“Your presentation was a little rushed; were you up all night with the baby? Have another go.”
“Oh, you have a car I had when I was learning to drive; brings back memories, yes only cost me £x”
“You know you can discuss anything with me; I am here to help”
“Oh, having to leave early (when you’re already stayed late), no worries, I’ll make sure the work is done”
“Your team is out of sorts today; would you like me to have a chat with them?”
“Well, darling, no one can knock your spirit wearing that; not everyone can pull it off!”
Then of course, it’s when they befriend you are use everything you say against you…. “Just looking out for you”
“Go on, have a chocolate; start your diet tomorrow!”
“Little things that mount up.
Talking to others then stopping when you come into the room
Booking all the days after bank holidays, so you do not get a turn
Talking to colleagues in a derogatory manner “Is she in yet?”
“He can never get the hang of parking – look here he goes!”
 “Another late night – look at the state of his hair. Hasn’t he heard of dry shampoo!”
“Great idea for Secret Santa next time”
“Don’t roll your eyes at me”
“Can we have a catch up to discuss your work load; don’t’ worry, it will only take 5 minutes” At the end of the day and it does!
“Have you ever been a Manager before?” (with reference to your management style)
“As a Manager you need to be more like a swan…..complete calmness on the surface of the water but underneath (where no-one sees) peddling for dear life”
“You seem very stressed, hope this does not affect your team/colleagues”
“Are you ok? You look really really tired”
“You do realise that all these extra hours you work will just become expected over time and won’t be noticed or appreciated”
“xxx said they overheard you say at the BBQ the weekend that you were going to get your colleague xxx a big fat pay rise. That’s no way to act as a Manager (outside of work)”
Then of course the big question is, how do these bullies get away with it? Well here are some answers, but we would like you to tell us more. So, the perpetrator is:
Two faced – great with Management but when they are not around, evil.
Say great things to your face, the opposite to bosses behind your back
Gain your confidence, listen to your day to day woes, and then use them against you.
The management team often know who the bullies are but shrink away from addressing them.
Why?
Often because they are fearful and often the bullies are bringing in the revenue and create an aura of being irreplaceable and more frightening would cause the organisation harm by going to a competitor.
Often these bullies have been with the company for some time; managing them out will be difficult and could result in a costly law suit.
When they leave, bizarrely they could take others with them.
Then of course, they may have gained the confidence of the Director and could use that information against them.
Of course there is ‘ignoring the problem’ in the hope it will go away.
Coercive control is not limited to employees. They also work on the people who manage them, gaining the upper hand, taking more and more liberties, until they too are reduced to a pulp and neither can challenge or reprimand them.
Let’s be positive; lets us know what form of coercive control you have suffered and coping mechanisms you have used. If anyone has managed to get rid of the awful bully please tell us.
I would ask the bullies to contribute, but as they are cowards, not only do they not see themselves as bullies, they believe they have no problems!..............
……………In fact quite the opposite, they are marvellous!

Share by: